TL James, born and raised in Houston, Texas, studied English at the University of Houston and Texas Southern University and graduated with an MBA from Letourneau University, where she cultivated an interest in biblical studies which is woven throughout the trilogy. As she developed the storyline for this labor of love, she worked tirelessly with her son constantly tucked around her waist. She often found her inspiration in the sound of her son’s small steady breaths while he slept. After eight months of sleepless nights, The MPire trilogy was completed.
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The MPire Trilogy — In Search of the Lost, Death Cometh, The Trinity — This speculative fiction chronicles the life of the protagonist, financial guru, Mallory Haulm; his reluctant acceptance of his charge as Death, the forth horseman of the Apocalypse, collides Heaven and Earth. The journey takes you through family drama,
Imagine the movie poster for your latest novel, THE MPIRE: DEATH COMETH. What’s the logline?
There can only be one Death!
Expand on that logline by pitching us THE MPIRE: DEATH COMETH in 50 words or less.
The MPire: Death Cometh divulges life shattering secrets that shake Heaven and Earth. As Mallory Haulm struggles to take his rightful place as Death, the fourth horseman; his Dad won’t relinquish control. The battle lines have been drawn and the most consecrated ritual will allow only one to survive.
THE MPIRE: DEATH COMETH is actually book two of your The MPire series, which began with THE MPIRE: IN SEARCH OF THE LOST. What I loved about book one was the themes and ideas you tackle in the story. Talk to us about what you see as the central theme(s) in this series.
Family Drama – I wanted to write about a powerful black family whose history and roots were deep and enchanting and elevated beyond the same ole stories of slaving, pimping, and drug dealing.
Corporate America – I have spent 19+ years in CA. There are so many stories about greed and corruption that happens everyday… Hollywood couldn’t make it up. So I decided to add some of my horror stories.
Biblical References – Many people write about ghosts, and vampires, but I wanted to tap into something that wasn’t really apparent. Being one of the horsemen is definitely a family saga.
What was the spark that initiated the idea behind The MPire series?
I was laid-off with my two month-old-son. Day in and day out, I was watching meaning less television. There were no positive fiction shows about black people. One day, I unplugged the television and dared myself to write something better – thus The MPire was created.
Talk to us about the writing process for THE MPIRE: DEATH COMETH. Was it a fast write? Was it more difficult than the first book?
Actually, when I started writing The MPire Trilogy, it was one story. The story just flowed. The difficult part was dividing the books in to three and re-writing beginning and ending as to create proper introductions and cliff hangers.
How did you grow as a writer during the writing of THE MPIRE: DEATH COMETH?
Writing from a male’s perspective was really a growing pain. To actually get in touch with the testosterone while writing is a stretch. My other growing pain was to write against how I believe. Some of my views and the views and positions that my characters take are extremely different. However, I felt that it was very important to my project my voice in the characters and let them speak for themselves.
If you were asked to describe your writing philosophy, how would you answer?
Free writing and an analytical balance. I used a spreadsheet to “create” my timeline. I added historical events, both real and fictitious. Once I had my scaffold completed, I started free writing, allowing the characters to talk, act, react and acted-up.
What are you doing or planning to do to promote THE MPIRE: DEATH COMETH?
I have teamed up with a wonderful publicist, Dana Pittman, to map out promotions strategy. My most important goal is to get my books into reader’s hands and that does not always mean in book stores. I participate in literary events at Art shows, Wine shows, Beauty shows – anywhere were people are present and buying. I have a website (www.authortljames.com) that gives information about me and my books, as well as other projects. I have a blog (www.authortljames.com/blog) where I share my secrets about writing, new authors’ reviews, and other thoughts.
What are three pieces of advice you would offer writers once they are published?
Researching your audience is very important.
Ask a LOT of questions, even if the ‘sells pitch’ sound good and reasonable.
Believe in yourself – it can make or break your story.
You’re going on vacation, and you’re only allowed to take three books with you — what are they, and why these three?
Mythical Book – I loved studying about different myths – Greek, Roman, Norse or Chinese, etc.
Self Help Book – Life is about continuous improvement.
Good Dictionary – The one thing I hate is stopping a good writing flow because I am too left-brain dead to spell a word.
Who is one of your favorite writers, and how does he/she inspire you as a writer?
One of my favorite writers was Zora Neal Hurston – an American folklorist and author during the Harlem Renaissance period. I don’t know I connected with her. It was either her writing style or her controversial political and social stance that fascinated me. Either way, she was a powerful icon to me.
Word Association. What comes to mind when you see the following words:
THE MPIRE: destiny, dynasty, power, necessary evil, controllers of the world’s fate
FAMILY: drama, roots, powerhouse, enchanting, screwed up
FATE: calling, talent, curse, no escape
WRITING: free expression, stress reliever; creating a box to live outside of
T.L. JAMES: “touched”, creative, mother
THE MPIRE: DEATH COMETH: The Movie. Who plays lead character Mallory Towneson Haulm?
I am so glad someone finally asked me this question!!! I hope you don’t mind if I add to this question.
I pictured Michael Ealy to play Mallory Haulm, but you can’t get the full effect of the story if you don’t have the other characters.
Brothers: Marc – Lamman Rucker; Marek – Richard T. Jones; Marlon – Anthony Anderson; Mallory – Michael Ealy
Matthew – Boris Kodjoe;
Uncles: Uncle Mal – James Pickens Jr; Malcolm – Gary Dourdan; Uncle Myron – Michael Clarke Duncan/ Ving Rhames
Women: Melody – Jenifer Lewis; Stacy – Christina Millan; Natasha – Malinda Williams; Brielle/Elektra – Thandie Newton
What’s currently going on in your WRITING LIFE?
I am creating Chronicles to The MPire. The Chronicles take a different spin on the story, exploring different storylines. As long as the characters are acting-up, I will be writing.